Classically speaking, I typically master a track separately from whatever sequence software I use. Over the past year I have been heavily focused on equalization, filtering some instruments to make them fit a frequency pocket, and how that all affects the final mix. Of course, much of the time, I over do it; mostly because it’s an experiment. In the end, I’ve found, respecting an instrument or sample’s core timbre is the simplest way to go.
Speaking of simple, why should anyone have to compose in a full digital audio workstation with mastering later in mind? That’s just silly! But that’s what I have been doing for the past five years or so, ever since I was introduced to software like T-Racks and Ozone.
I want to introduce a new friend of mine —
The TLs 4032 Pocket Limiter. Remember I said something about simple?
Up to ca 6db you kan get very transparent results (if you got some dynamics to spare that is..) where you don´t need to add too much knee. The harder you push equals more knee if you want to avoid heavy distortion. Simple operation with superb results straight out of the “pocket” !
. . . is what the readme.txt file says. The key word is ‘limiter’, though, with the gain pushed up much at all, it’s also an awesome compressor. Now, while trying to get a mix balanced, I have learned a gate on individual channels will typically help more than a compressor. So I put this pocket bugger at the very end of the audio’s chain. And doing so seems to replace my need for that extra mastering step where I would normally achieve “Final Quintessential Volume”. Mastering software shouldn’t be a fix-all for polishing a turd. If you need stereo widening, apply it to instruments individually instead of a whole frequency band. Make it all round and shiny from the get go!